IS THIS ABOUT SEX?
A compelling exploration of gender and identity
This article is from 2007.
Christian O’Reilly’s contemporary sex farce isn’t a lot more than the kind of piece we saw from Brian Rix in the 70s, which, in those days, attracted pop cultural phrases like ‘adult’ and ‘sophisticated’. Even so, it contrives to be amusing from end to end, and occasionally takes us on a deeper journey, addressing issues like how identity is connected not just with issues of sexuality, but also of intimacy.
In it, we meet Daniel (Darragh Kelly), who, in the lingerie department of a high street shop, reveals that the underwear he’s purchasing from store assistant Kathy (Hilary O’Shaughnessy) is not, in fact for his wife, but himself. She has problems of her own, since boyfriend Paul (Rory Nolan) she points out, has become rather inert on the sex front. His masculine and completive response is to treat this as a challenge, and he approaches cunnilingus as a sort of land speed record, obsessing over making her achieve orgasm in record time. The result is an affair between Kathy and her transvestite customer, while Daniel’s wife Kay (Ali White) seeks solace in Paul’s arms in a lunchtime affair that involves more sandwiches than sex.
There are plenty of cracking one liners, and a few neat observations, with Daniel’s speculations about how exactly cave men practiced sex putting a bunch of reactionary myths firmly in their place. But most of all, the play explores the unconscious projections of its characters upon each other, and their, at times, unfortunate choices about how, as a result, they see themselves. Lynne Parker’s production for Irish company Rough Magic remains pretty chipper throughout, with nice pacing and good performances. Kelly’s baffled, gentle man-in-a-woman’s-body is a particular treat among these, and if Paul O’Mahony’s bedroom/department store set raises more questions about sexuality and commodification than it answers, there’s still plenty to giggle about here.
Traverse 3: The University of Edinburgh Drill Hall, 228 1404, until 26 Aug, times vary, £16 (£5–£11).